MASSACHUSETTS,. ..... ,,
SCHOOL SUFFRAGE A'SSbcfXf l&N.
What can we do by our Votes for the
good of the Schools?
This question is often asked, both by women who are
indifferent to their newly-gained power, and do not care
to exercise it, and by those who are earnestly inquiring as
to their duty in the matter. And to their question is often
added the statement " in our town we always have a good
School-committee, elected by the votes of the men ; so our
votes are not needed ; — and — why should we vote ? "
To all these questioners we would like to offer some sug-
gestions that seem to us of weight.
i. There are in Massachusetts two orders of schools;
good schools and bad schools ; with every degree of varia-
tion from very bad to exceedingly good.
2. If you live in a town in which the schools are in the
main below the average, there seems hardly room to doubt
that by your vote you may do something towards their im-
provement. For your schools are poor either because your
committee is not equal to the work of making them good,
or because the public sentiment of your town will not sus-
tain the committee in efforts to improve them. The women
of a town help to make public sentiment just as truly
as do the men, and are just as responsible for whatever
: •' ( , .2 ::*i •
c • • • ' c r tr
may be wrong.ia it, .if., they, do not use their influence to
make it what if SsJuJuUI be.'; tf this right public sentiment
be lacking.^ .ypur. town,, you, by-ypuf .vote, and by the in-
teres/. ; a'n,d N^tfce vAjph yoijr jwofe represents, may
directly contribute to the formation of a better feeling,
which will demand improvement in the Schools. If your
committee be incompetent, it needs no word of ours to
show that, by the votes of the citizens, they must be sup-
planted by the right persons, before you can possibly have
3. But if you live in one of the fortunate towns, where the
schools are good, " why is your vote needed " you ask, and
we reply,— first, no schools are as good as they should be,
as good as they may and will be when all the citizens are
public-spirited enough to desire to keep them among the
best by steady progress ■ for in education as elsewhere im-
provements are constantly made, old errors are discovered
and removed, and new' and better methods are invented.
Eternal vigilance on the part of the citizens, is the price of
schools that shall be always good, that shall keep up to the
standard, which is always rising with the progress of civil-
ization. And again, we reply, that if you have a good
committee its members deserve the recognition that comes
from the votes of their fellow-citizens. It is little that can
be done to reward faithful school-committee members for
services that are always responsible, and often very diffi-
cult and trying. Are they not entitled to an election by a
large vote, and will they not render heartier service if they
are sure that they have the grateful recognition of the
women of their town, as well as of the men ? Sure that
they will have genuine sympathy in their efforts to improve
the schools ? And will it do them any harm to know that
the watchful eyes of the women are upon the schools, these
homes of our children, which are hardly second in their in-
fluence to the special homes, in which we gather our little
ones around our own hearthstones ? And we say still
further that your teachers are also entitled to a recognition
on the part of all the inhabitants of the town. To get rid of
bad teachers is an obvious necessity ; but this is not the
chief need in this direction. There are in all our towns
young teachers, who have good ability, perhaps, and fair
training, who in the end will doubtless make first-rate
teachers, but who have yet to gain experience, which is of
the utmost importance in their work. The women of the
town have it in their power to be a great strength and sup-
port to such teachers as these. If you are ready to vote in
school matters, you will doubtless find a way to speak the
friendly word, to do the kindly deed, for the teacher who
needs it. It may be a word of praise, or of criticism,
a suggestion of new expedients to be tried in governing the
unruly, in influencing for good those who are on the wrong
track, who have no good influences surrounding them in
If the women of your town would only accept an inter-
est in the schools as one of their duties and high privileges,
the way would soon open for them to be of real service in
these directions. And one thing further let us say, no
good, earnest, successful teacher can ever be paid by
the salary alone, any more than a mother can be paid
for love and devotion towards her child. Add to the
money payment, a grateful appreciation of your teachers'
work, and you will lighten many a burden that weighs
heavily upon every one who elevates the profession of
teaching to the place where it alone belongs. Those of
you who have been teachers, know how much better ser-
vice could be given, if there were in the community at least
an appreciation of the fact that the life of a faithful teach-
er is not spent in wandering beside still waters in shady
groves ; but is the daily climbing of somewhat rugged
mountain paths, where stones and briars are often found.
In this slight sketch of the value of your vote to the
schools, we have purposely left to the last, our word in
reference to the importance to the community that the
schools should be good. And perhaps it would be as well
to leave it all unsaid. What woman is there, who may
not understand it, if she will but give it her serious thought?
The minds and the characters,— to say nothing of the
physical life,— of the children of our good old State, are
shaped in the schools ■ which are indeed prime sources of
good or evil in the community, making, to a large extent
the mental and moral atmosphere in which we all must
live. The women of the State have the power to help
in making the schools good • uniting with the best men,
they will have an overwhelming power in this direction.
These two facts, women of Massachusetts, speak for
themselves. To us it looks as if no public-spirited, high-
minded woman, reflecting upon the matter could fail to see
the duty and the advantage of her casting a vote for the
schools; it is a small service to offer, it will surely bring
an ample return.
The Massachusetts School Suffrage Association was
formed to make the votes of women as effective as possi-
ble in improving the schools. Already much has been
gained in this direction by the united efforts of women
throughout the State. But very much more remains to be
done, which can only be accomplished by the union of all.
To secure this, organization seems necessary ; and we ask
your kind consideration of the following plan, and your
help in carrying it out.
We earnestly desire to organize in each city and town of
the Commonwealth, local associations auxiliary to the State
Associations. In order to attain the object of the State
Society, it is necessary to have an interested company of
registered and voting women in each city and town, pledged
to awaken interest in the schools, and to arouse women to
their special suffrage duties towards public education.
These local associations should become members of
the State Association, corresponding with it and reporting
We would suggest the following plan for forming local
organizations : That you, alone, or in cooperation with a
few friends, should call a parlor meeting at some centrally-
situated house, inviting all the women who voted at the
last election, and any others interested. Organize by
choice of a President, Secretary, Treasurer, and one or
more Directors. Agree to hold meetings once every
month, in the afternoon or evening, as is most convenient.
Draw up a plan for these meetings, as, for instance, read-
ing, informal discussions, or addresses from persons well
informed on some of the following subjects, or others
which may suggest themselves.
^ The moral condition of the schools in your city or
2. The sanitary condition of the schools
3- The best course of study to be pursued.
4- How should recesses be spent?
5- Ought High-School instruction to be free ?
6. What can be done to keep the children of factory or
shop workers longer in school ? Y
7- The relation between parents and teachers
8- How much stillness in the school room should be
required of Primary children ?
gr L s ™ nexperienced ,rachers be -»• ""'-'»-
ro. Kindergarten training,
ii. Necessary qualifications for teaching
i2. Necessary qualifications for school committees or
school superintendents. ""itrees or
I* Proper use of public money in education, - taking
up the question of salaries of teachers, expenses of school
buildings, furnishings, etc., etc.
14. The need of women on school boards
t o laT^h t h r y other probiems ' wm ° pen - *■ «"*
cuhv 'to?' ! n K°T eCl am °" S y ° U Wi " be able > with °«t diffi-
culty, to find books and pamphlets on the topics selected
The subject of each meeting should be chosen at the
preceding meeting, and two persons appointed, one to can
rZ cAoT' ^^ a rCPOrt ° f *° l0Cal -^Tn
respect to the subject in hand, and the other, to get light
iTwo 00 ,;, 01 " Pe n S ° nS ' " reSP6Ct t0 the ideal concfitiom
It would be well to call this local association the « Edu-
cational Club," or »P ublic school Association," wffidi
would invite attendance from women not yet interest to
vote on school matters, and from men also
The objects of this local association should be :
i st. To awaken interest in the schools and to acquire
actual knowledge of their method of instruction and the
condition of the children.
2d. To arouse men and women to the importance of
conscientious and wisely-directed oversight of the schools
by the public, to be exercised through the ballot in the
choice of school officials.
Will you take as prompt and effective measures as possi-
ble to carry out this or some other plan of local work in
connection with the Massachusetts School Suffrage Asso-
ciation ? If not able to work personally, will you secure
some other helper? Please report a beginning as soon as
We have taken it for granted that, in every town of the
Commonwealth, there are persons interested in improving
the schools. We want their help in carrying forward the
good work, and we promise them, in return, cordial sym-
pathy, and such help as it may be in our power to bestow.
For the Association,
ABBY W. MAY,
Annette P. Rogers,
Boston, May 20, 18S1.
DELAND & BAKTA.
Boston Public Library
Central Library, Copley Square
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